>I’ve Just Finished Reading…

>…The Hunger Games, which is a spectacular piece of highly-acclaimed speculative fiction. What if, in the far-off future, there is a government so all-prevailing over its people and so self-serving that it would allow those people to starve while it prospered? What if this government was so perverse and backward as to allow the starving children of its nation to fight to the death for the entertainment of onlookers?

This is the main premise of The Hunger Games and, while reading, it irked me the entire time that this brutal story had an audience of young adults. Yes, this is YA. Murder, sensationalism, capitalism and horrible politics would come together to form an image of war and violence in the minds of teenagers and for most of the book, I was not okay with that. I admit that my impressions of this story were colored by my instincts as a parent to protect young people from brutality and negativity. But reflecting on The Hunger Games brings me to an interesting realization: young adult literature is not children’s literature, not even by a stretch.

Those coming of age are just discovering that the world is cruel and it is not all rainbows and puppy dogs. Why shouldn’t their literature reflect this while aiding in the healthy acceptance of it? In YA, horrible, adult issues can be discussed and illustrated, just like in adult literature. But there’s an innocence to YA that is reminiscent of the children’s stories of a young adult’s recent past. YA presents an unique balance between the protagonists’ innocence and endearing need to do the right thing, and the antagonists’ need to illustrate that the world is not always as it should be.

The beauty of young adult literature, and perhaps the appeal of it for adults, is its ability to discuss real, grown-up situations from the vantage points of innocent, virtuous characters. In what other medium would mature adults accept preachy, wrong vs. right stories about such mature topics as war, politics and violence? In what other medium would today’s angsty teenager (you know…the one over there, playing Call of Duty) accept such wrong vs. right preaching, if not hidden beneath a story so dark, violent, brutal and–let’s face it–awesome?

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Posted on January 22, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. >Hunger Games rocked my world. I loved it, but was disgusted at the same time. I never worried that it was too brutal for my kids. My 11-year-old read the entire series in less than a week. I think reading is a safe medium. Kids feel safe, no matter how scary the book may be.

  2. >Huh, I didn't know what it was about before reading this blog post. It sounds like a rip-off of the Japanese film Battle Royale.

  3. >I loved Hunger Games, and while I'm not a teenager, my niece who is 16 read the novel in a couple of days raved about it. Though I do agree, the topics are quite brutal and confronting, and perhaps more appropriate for the older teenager. Katniss is a strong protagonist and lets the reader know to never give up, no matter what is thrown at them. I think that's a positive for any teenager. Thanks for sharing.

  4. >Lauren:I am in need of editing-agency help. My writing is fragmentary and aphoristic. I have alot of it. Any advice?Thank you

  5. >Shannon, I don't have much time to give detailed feedback, but if you've written something and would like to query the agency for which I work, please go to http://www.bookends-inc.com.

  6. >As an intern at S&S (I feel so ignorant asking this because I don't even know what department you intern at), what is the buzz about the little YA Internet experiment where teens get ro read new releases for free online? I believe the title is Pulse It. What is up with that? Do the people in the office even realize it exists? Or do they curse the giving away of free books with seven thousand slushpile paper cuts?

  7. >Ok, seriously, I'm amazed. I pretty much found it impossible to find anyone in the publishing industry who felt YA could be a little brutal. Anyway, I know you're not an agent, but I'd love your opinion on my query letter. If not, this blog is definitely one to follow. (:

  8. >Funny, I had the opposite view. I quite liked the Hunger Games (which I read last fall) and found it easy to forget that it's a novel about teenagers killing teenagers – which is afterwards what irked me. I got sucked into Katniss' point of view, and kinda forgot about that disturbing aspect.You might like Mockingjay. Katniss spends most of the book grappling with what she's done, and I really liked that Suzanne Collins didn't just sweep it all under the rug (which is what happened in Twilight and Harry Potter with the difficult stuff).

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